SARAJEVO - Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik confirmed on Thursday the accuracy of VOA Bosnian Service's investigative report he spent close to $30 million on lobbying in the United States.
Dodik, the president of the Republika Srpska, told journalists that the autonomous Bosnian-Serb entity has possibly paid about $30 million to firms lobbying the U.S. government in Washington.
"It is public knowledge that for the past 10 years we have contacts with certain agencies [in the U.S.] Thanks to that we had a good standing of Republica Srpska in the past, and we were able to provide explanations regarding certain questions," Dodik said, according to Bosnian news agency FENA. “That’s not a lot of money, if you consider the time over which it was spent.”
VOA's Bosnian service reported on Monday that Bosnian Serb leader spent $29,635,062,83 on lobbying efforts. The report was picked up by local media outlets and the news spread quickly through social media.
On January 17, the United States Treasury department imposed sanctions on Dodik for an active obstruction of efforts to implement the 1995 Dayton Accords, which ended the bloody 1990s conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The sanctions allow U.S. authorities to block access by Dodik to any of his property or assets that are under U.S. jurisdiction.
Dodik was once commended as a democratic reformer in Bosnia, but ties with the U.S. and EU have soured over the past several years. During the same time, he has been praised by Russia, with which he advocates closer political and economic relations.
Recently, Dodik has called for independence for Republika Srpska, questioned the legitimacy of the judiciary and even withdrawn Republika Srpska soldiers from the country's unified military.
Dodik was also recently refused a diplomatic visa by the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo, which prevented him from coming to attend the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Dodik claimed he had been officially invited to attend the event. However it turned out the invitation was for a private ball sponsored by religious and conservative groups.